Reuse and Recycle, but not how you think

While texting my aunt during the NYE resolution days of 2022 she sent me one word. Simplicity. The goal? That she wanted to approach 2022 with a less is more attitude. Which is certainly something we should all try and achieve, right? Especially on the climate front.

 

After a year of pandemic related emission reduction, global emissions once again shot up through 2021.

The take home here: when humans are doing things at “normal”levels (or even close to normal), energy is needed and that energy has to be made one way or another. And so now we reach the dilemma. How do we balance the less is more approach while creating noticeable impacts in climate-first energy generation? Or better, how are we designing renewables to be recycled at end of life so their materials can be reused?

Setting aside the fact that we have significant hurdles to face in the realm of critical materials (minerals), we also have to start thinking about reusing and recycling components of large scale renewable energy projects.

 

“Solar panels and wind turbines are also designed for durability in ways that make recycling challenging. Most solar panels are composed of silicon cells coated in layers of polymer sealants that bind the cells to weatherproof glass and plastic covers. While this electronic sandwich design means the panels can spend decades on a rooftop exposed to the elements, the adhesives and sealants used throughout the panel make it hard to separate the components cleanly at end of life.”

Maddie Stone, The Verge

So yes. Less is more. But unless we start approaching projects with that thought from the planning stage, this issue is likely to stick around.